The Chicago Park District is the oldest and one of the largest park districts in the United States. As of 2016, there are over 600 parks included in the Chicago Park District as well as 27 beaches, several boat harbors, two botanic conservatories, a zoo, and 11 museums. The Chicago Park District also has more than over 230 field houses, 78 public pools, and dozens of sports and recreational facilities, with year-round programming. The district is an independent taxing authority as defined by Illinois State Statute and is considered a separate (or "sister") agency of the City of Chicago. The district's general superintendent and CEO, Michael P. Kelly, was appointed by the mayor of Chicago and confirmed by the board of commissioners in 2011. The district's headquarters are located in the Time-Life Building in the Streeterville neighborhood.
|Chicago Park District|
|Formed||Consolidated in 1934|
Predecessors founded in 1869
|Jurisdiction||Government of Chicago|
|Headquarters||541 N. Fairbanks Court|
Chicago, Illinois 60611
|Annual budget||$385 million|
The Chicago Park District oversees more than 600 parks with over 8,800 acres (3,600 ha) of municipal parkland as well as 27 beaches, 78 pools, 11 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons and 10 bird and wildlife gardens that are found within the city limits. A number of these are tourist destinations, most notably Lincoln Park, Chicago's largest park which has over 20 million visitors each year, second only to Central Park in New York City. With 10 lakefront harbors located within a number of parks along the lakefront, the Chicago Park District is also the nation's largest municipal harbor system.
A number of Chicago Park District parks are located in the vicinity of or even adjacent to a number of Chicago Public Schools. This design was done in order to make it easier for public school students and faculty to incorporate school assignments or physical activities into the learning experience. Additionally, a number of Chicago Public Library locations are located within Chicago Park District facilities.
In the 1860s, Chicago already had about 40 small parks, but no central plan, and it fell far short when compared to other major cities in the country. Lincoln Park was Chicago's first large park, created in 1860. Dr. John H. Rauch MD, who was a member of the Chicago Board of Health and later a president of the Illinois State Board of Health, played a key role in establishing Lincoln Park by persuading city officials to close several festering cemeteries filled with shallow graves of victims of infectious epidemics. Rauch next formulated a central plan for parks across the entire city, noting that they were "the lungs of the city", and pointing out that Chicago's parks were inferior to those in New York's Central Park, Baltimore's Druid Park, and Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. His influence was key in setting up Chicago's modern park system.
The current Chicago Park District was created in 1934 by the Illinois Legislature under the Park Consolidation Act. By provisions of that act, the Chicago Park District consolidated and superseded the then-existing 22 separate park districts in Chicago, the largest three of which were the Lincoln Park, West Park, and South Park Districts, all of which had been established in 1869. In the late 1960s, the district lent its support for a Special Olympics for developmental challenged children. The Park District co-sponsored the first Special Olympics at Soldier Field 1968.
In the past several years, the Park District has initiated a program of renovating and beautifying existing parks and playgrounds, as well as initiating the building of a number of new parks, including Ping Tom Memorial Park, Ellis Park, DuSable Park Maggie Daley Park and others. The Chicago Park District has also expanded programming in neighborhood parks throughout the city, and created a lakefront concert venue on Northerly Island on the site of the former Meigs Field airport. In 2014, the district won the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Parks and Recreation.
Park District land hosts 11 museums in locations around the city. They are:
Buckingham Fountain is a Chicago landmark in the center of Grant Park. Dedicated in 1927, it is one of the largest fountains in the world. Built in a Rocky rococo wedding cake style and inspired by the Latona Fountain at the Palace of Versailles, it is meant to allegorically represent Lake Michigan. It operates from April to October, with regular water shows and evening color-light shows. During the winter, the fountain is decorated with festival lights.Burnham Park (Chicago)
Burnham Park is a public park located in Chicago, Illinois. Situated along 6 miles (9.7 km) of Lake Michigan shoreline, the park connects Grant Park at 14th Street to Jackson Park at 56th Street. The 598 acres (242 ha) of parkland is owned and managed by Chicago Park District. It was named for urban planner and architect Daniel Burnham in 1927. Burnham was one of the designers of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.
The park is an outgrowth of the 1909 Plan for Chicago developed by the park's namesake Daniel Burnham and often called simply "The Burnham Plan". Land for the park has been acquired by the city's park district by a variety of means such as bequest, landfill, and barter. Now, the park hosts some of the city's most important municipal structures, such as Soldier Field and McCormick Place. The park has surrendered the land for the Museum Campus to Grant Park. During the presidency of U.S. President Barack Obama, the park was the landing site for Marine One when visiting his Kenwood home on Chicago's south side.
In the early 20th century, Chicago businessman A. Montgomery Ward advocated that the lakefront must be publicly accessible, and remain "forever open, clear and free", lest the city descend into the squalor typical of American cities of the time, with buildings and heavy industry destroying any chance for beauty. Ward's influence lead to the protection of the lake shore parks system and to this day, the city's lakefront is open from the former city limits at Hollywood Ave (5700N) down to the former steel mills near Rainbow Beach (7700S).Chicago Harbor
Generally, the Chicago Harbor comprises the public rivers, canals, and lakes within the territorial limits of the City of Chicago and all connecting slips, basins, piers, breakwaters, and permanent structures therein for a distance of three miles from the shore between the extended north and south lines of the city. The greater Chicago Harbor includes portions of the Chicago River, the Calumet River, the Ogden Canal, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Lake Calumet, and Lake Michigan.In a more narrow sense, the Chicago Harbor is that artificial harbor on Lake Michigan located at the mouth of the Chicago River bounded by outer breakwaters to the north and east, Northerly Island to the south, and the Chicago shoreline to the west. The main entrance to this harbor is marked by the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse. The Jardine Water Purification Plant, Navy Pier, the Chicago Harbor Lock, Coast Guard Station Chicago, the municipal harbors - Dusable Harbor and Monroe Harbor, and the yacht clubs - Chicago Yacht Club and Columbia Yacht Club are all located here.The Port of Chicago is located within the greater Chicago Harbor in and around Calumet Harbor, the Calumet River, and Lake Calumet.
The Chicago Park District operates a municipal harbor system within the greater Chicago Harbor in Lake Michigan for recreational boaters. With accommodations for 6000 boats, it is the largest system of its kind in the nation. The system comprises (from north to south) Montrose Harbor, Belmont Harbor, Diversey Harbor, Dusable Harbor, Monroe Harbor, Burnham Harbor, 31st Street Harbor, 59th Street Harbor, and Jackson Park Inner and Outer Harbors.Dinah Washington Park
Dinah Washington Park is a park located at 8215 S. Euclid Avenue in the South Chicago community area of Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was named for singer and Chicago resident Dinah Washington. It is one of four Chicago Park District parks named after persons surnamed Washington (the others being Washington Park, Harold Washington Park and Washington Square Park). It is one of 40 Chicago Park District parks named after influential African Americans.The Chicago Park District purchased the vacant lot in 1972 with the help of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.Douglas Park (Chicago)
Douglas Park is a large Chicago Park District park that serves as a cultural and community center on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois. It is named after the U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas. Originally named South Park, its 173 acres (0.70 km2) are in the North Lawndale community area with an official address of 1401 S. Sacramento Drive.Gery Chico
Gery J. Chico ( GERR-ee CHEE-koh; born August 24, 1956) is an American politician, Chicago lawyer, public official and former Democratic primary candidate for United States Senate.
Chico served as the Chief of Staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley from 1992 to 1995, and board president of the Chicago Public Schools from 1995 to 2001. He was named Outstanding School Board President by the Illinois State Board of Education in 1997. From 2007 to 2010, he was board president of the Chicago Park District, and in 2010 he was board president of the City Colleges of Chicago. On June 7, 2011, Chico was named Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
Chico ran for Mayor of Chicago in the 2011 election, but was defeated by Rahm Emanuel. In late 2018, Chico declared a second bid for mayor in the 2019 election. After losing in the first round, he endorsed Lori Lightfoot.Grant Park (Chicago)
Grant Park is a large urban park (319 acres or 1.29 km²) in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. Located within the city's central business district, the park's most notable features are Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum Campus. Originally known as Lake Park, and dating from the city's founding, it was renamed in 1901 to honor US President Ulysses S. Grant. The park's area has been expanded several times through land reclamation, and was the focus of several disputes in the late 19th century and early 20th century over open space use. It is bordered on the north by Randolph Street, on the south by Roosevelt Road and McFetridge Drive, on the west by Michigan Avenue and on the east by Lake Michigan. The park contains performance venues, gardens, art work, sporting, and harbor facilities. It hosts public gatherings and several large annual events.
Grant Park is popularly referred to as "Chicago's front yard". It is governed by the Chicago Park District.Harold Washington Park
Harold Washington Park is a small (10 acre) park in the Chicago Park District located in the Hyde Park community area on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was recently named for lawyer, state legislator, U.S. congressman, Hyde Park resident, and the first African American Chicago Mayor Harold Washington (1922–1987). The Park District officially calls the park Harold Washington Playlot Park with a designated address of 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd Chicago, IL 60615. It is one of 4 Chicago Park District parks named after persons surnamed Washington (Washington Park, Washington Square Park, Dinah Washington Park). It is one of 40 Chicago Park District parks named after influential African Americans. The Park is bounded by East 53rd Street on the south, South Hyde Park Boulevard on the west, and Lake Shore Drive to the east. Architecturally, it is flanked to the north by Regents Park (see emporis.com page) and The Hampton House to the south. In addition its southwest corner opposes two National Register of Historic Places Properties (Hotel Del Prado and East Park Towers).Jackson Park (Chicago)
Jackson Park is a 500-acre (2 km²) park located at 6401 South Stony Island Avenue in the Woodlawn community on the South Side in Chicago, Illinois. It extends into the South Shore and Hyde Park nearby neighborhoods, bordering onto Lake Michigan and several other South Side neighborhoods. Named for Seventh President Andrew Jackson, it is one of two Chicago Park District parks with the name "Jackson", the other being Mahalia Jackson Park for the gospel music singer in the Auburn Gresham community on the far southwest side of Chicago.
The parkland was first developed as the host site of the World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair) in 1893, memorialized today by the Statue of The Republic. The Museum of Science and Industry resides in the remaining "palace" in the park from the Fair era, and a Japanese garden traces its history to the Fair. The park includes woodland trails, playing fields, a beach, a golf course, and a boat harbor. It is the potential future site of the Barack Obama Presidential Center and library.Jefferson Park, Chicago
Jefferson Park is one of the 77 community areas of Chicago, located on the Northwest Side of the city. The neighborhood of Jefferson Park occupies a larger swath of territory, as shown on this map.
Jefferson Park is bordered by the community areas of Norwood Park to the northwest, Forest Glen to the northeast, Portage Park to the south, and the suburb of Harwood Heights to the west. Although the official community area map draws the boundary between Jefferson Park and Portage Park at Gunnison Street and Lawrence Avenue, the Jefferson Park neighborhood extends to Montrose Avenue farther south.Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is a 1,208-acre (489-hectare) park situated along Lake Michigan on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois. Named after US President Abraham Lincoln, it is the city's largest public park and stretches for seven miles (11 km) from Grand Avenue (500 N) on the south to near Ardmore Avenue (5800 N) on the north, just north of the Lake Shore Drive terminus at Hollywood Avenue. Several museums and a zoo are located between North Avenue (1600 N) and Diversey Parkway (2800 N) in the eponymous neighborhood. Further to the north, the park is characterized by parkland, beaches, recreational areas, nature reserves, and harbors. To the south, there is a more narrow strip of beaches east of Lake Shore Drive, almost to downtown. With 20 million visitors per year, Lincoln Park is the second-most-visited park in the United States.The park's recreational facilities include baseball/softball fields, basketball courts, beach volleyball courts, cricket pitches, football/soccer fields, a golf course, lacrosse fields, rugby pitches, tennis courts, volleyball courts, field houses, a target archery field, a skate park, and a driving range.
The park also features several harbors with boating facilities, as well as public beaches for swimming. There are landscaped gardens, public art, bird refuges, a zoo, the Lincoln Park Conservatory, the Chicago History Museum, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, and a theater on the lake with regular outdoor performances held during the summer.Lincoln Square, Chicago
Lincoln Square, located on the North Side of the city of Chicago, Illinois, is one of 77 well-defined Chicago community areas. It encompasses the smaller neighborhoods of Ravenswood Gardens, Bowmanville, Budlong Woods as well as the eponymous Lincoln Square neighborhood. Although it is sometimes known by these other names the City of Chicago officially designated it as Lincoln Square in 1925. According to the Encyclopedia of Chicago, the conflation of Ravenswood and Lincoln Square is a common mistake — the two are not interchangeable. The boundaries of the original Ravenswood subdivision, drawn in 1869, were Montrose, Lawrence, Clark and Damen. In the 1920s, the University of Chicago divided the City into community areas, one of which was Lincoln Square, which included the existing Ravenswood subdivision.List of beaches in Chicago
The beaches in Chicago are an extensive network of waterfront recreational areas operated by the Chicago Park District. The Chicago metropolitan waterfront includes parts of the Lake Michigan shores as well as parts of the banks of the Chicago, Des Plaines, Calumet, Fox, and DuPage Rivers and their tributaries. The waterfront also includes the Illinois and Michigan Canal and the Sanitary and Ship Canal. Historically, the waterfront has been used for commerce, industry, and leisure. Leisure, such as fishing, swimming, hunting, walking and boating, was much more prevalent throughout the river sections of the waterfront system early in the 19th century before industrial uses altered the landscape. By midcentury, much leisure shifted to Lake Michigan as a result of industrial influence. The first City of Chicago Public Beach opened in Lincoln Park in 1895. Today, the entire 28 miles (45 km) Chicago lakefront shoreline is man-made, and primarily used as parkland. There are twenty-four beaches in Chicago along the shores of freshwater Lake Michigan.Typically, Chicago beaches take the name of the east-west street that runs perpendicular to the lake at each beach's location.Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park is a 20-acre (81,000 m2) public park in the Loop community area of Chicago operated by the Chicago Park District and managed by MB Real Estate. It is near the Lake Michigan shoreline in northeastern Grant Park where Daley Bicentennial Plaza previously stood. Maggie Daley Park, like its predecessor, is connected to Millennium Park by the BP Pedestrian Bridge. Designed by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, the park had its ceremonial ribbon cutting on December 13, 2014, and is named for Maggie Daley, the former first lady of the city who died of cancer in 2011. The park was almost entirely remade with multiple new features including a new field house, an ice skating ribbon, climbing walls, landscaping and children's playground. A garden honors cancer survivors. It is bounded by Randolph Street, Monroe, Columbus and Lake Shore Drives. Construction took 2 years and cost $60 million, including rebuilding an underground parking lot.Parks in Chicago
Parks in Chicago include open spaces and facilities, developed and managed by the Chicago Park District. The City of Chicago devotes 8.5% of its total land acreage to parkland, which ranked it 13th among high-density population cities in the United States in 2012. Since the 1830s, the official motto of Chicago has been Urbs in horto, Latin for "City in a garden" for its commitment to parkland. In addition to serving residents, a number of these parks also double as tourist destinations, most notably Lincoln Park, Chicago's largest park, visited by over 20 million people each year, is one of the most visited parks in the United States. Notable architects, artists and landscape architects have contributed to the 570 parks, including Daniel Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jens Jensen, Dwight Perkins, Frank Gehry, and Lorado Taft.Ping Tom Memorial Park
Ping Tom Memorial Park is a 17.24-acre (6.98 ha) public urban park in Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood, in South Side, Chicago. It is part of the Chicago Park District (CPD).
Located on the south bank of the Chicago River, the park is divided into three sections by a Santa Fe rail track and 18th Street. It was designed by Ernest C. Wong of Site Design Group and features a pagoda-style pavilion, bamboo gardens, and a playground. The park is named in honor of prominent Chinatown businessman and civic leader Ping Tom; a bronze bust of Tom is installed near the park's pavilion.Promontory Point (Chicago)
Promontory Point (known locally as The Point) is a man-made peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan. It is located in Chicago's Burnham Park. The Point was constructed from landfill and by the late 1930s was protected by a seawall or revetment. The revetment was designed and constructed by Chicago Park District engineers and consists of limestone blocks arranged in a series of four steps leading to a promenade.
Located on Chicago Park District land at 55th Street in Chicago's south side Hyde Park neighborhood, it was opened to the public in 1937. Alfred Caldwell, a disciple of Jens Jensen, designed the landscaping, following the Prairie School which uses native plants and stone. Caldwell's design featured a raised "meadow" section in the center of the 12-acre (49,000 m2) peninsula and included hundreds of flowering trees and shrubs. In 1938, Caldwell created stone sitting rings - called "council rings" - around the lakefront edge, which today are used as fire pits. Few of Caldwell's original plantings remain today.
The park is accessed by the Lakefront Trail, and a tunnel which passes under Lake Shore Drive at the east end of 55th Street. At the head of the park, seen immediately upon emerging from the 55th Street tunnel, is the David Wallach Memorial Fountain. This fountain was designed in 1939 by Elizabeth and Frederick Hibbard in the shape of a fawn, with drinking areas at human and animal levels. During the Cold War the park also housed a 150-foot (46 m) radar tower for the Nike Hercules missile defense system; it was dismantled in 1971.
The park contains a field house, built in 1937, the exterior of which is made of Lannon stone from Wisconsin. Partly because of its view of the lake and cityscape, it is a popular wedding and corporate event location. It competes with the much larger Jackson Park 63rd Street Beach House and the even larger South Shore Cultural Center as south side beachfront special use facilities. The frequent summer fireworks displays at Navy Pier are often viewed from The Point, especially on Independence Day, when large numbers of Hyde Parkers and other south side residents gather there. It neighbors the Museum of Science and Industry and the 57th Street Beach.
Water access is an important aspect of the Point's history of use. Swimmers, sunbathers, kayakers, and windsurfers use the Point's revetment to access the waters of Lake Michigan. People have been swimming off of the limestone revetment at Promontory Point since it was built, in 1937. In the summer months, the North side of the Point functions as a "rock beach." The water is shallow and the lake bottom is sand, making the North side a family friendly swimming area. On the both sides of the Point, open water swimmers enter the water off the rocks and swim across the bays. Both North and South side swimming areas are marked with "Swimming Area" buoys in the summer months. In the past, open water, or distance, swimming was a source of conflict with the Chicago Park District as the legality of swimming off the Point is ambiguous. From time to time, swimmers were ticketed. Recently, however, the Chicago Park District created an officially sanctioned open water swimming area off the South side of the Point. All motorized boat traffic is prohibited inside the buoyed areas.South Side, Chicago
The South Side is an area of the city of Chicago. It is the largest of the three Sides of the city that radiate from downtown—the others being the North Side and the West Side (while there is no East Side, because Lake Michigan runs along the city's eastern border, there is an East Side community area on the South Side, in the far southeastern section of the city). The South Side is sometimes referred to as South Chicago, although that name can also refer to a specific community area on the South Side.
Much of the South Side came from the city's annexation of townships such as Hyde Park. The city's "sides" have historically been divided by the Chicago River and its branches. The South Side of Chicago was originally defined as all of the city south of the main branch of the Chicago River, but it now excludes the Loop. The South Side has a varied ethnic composition. It has great disparity in income and other demographic measures. Although it has a reputation for high levels of crime, the reality is much more varied. The South Side ranges from affluent to middle class to poor, just like other sections of large cities.
South Side neighborhoods such as Armour Square, Back of the Yards, Bridgeport, and Pullman host more blue collar and middle-class residents, while Hyde Park, the Jackson Park Highlands District, Kenwood, Beverly, Mount Greenwood, and west Morgan Park feature affluent and upper-middle class residents.The South Side boasts a broad array of cultural and social offerings, such as professional sports teams, landmark buildings, museums, educational institutions, medical institutions, beaches, and major parts of Chicago's parks system. The South Side is served by numerous bus and 'L' trains via the Chicago Transit Authority and several Metra rail commuter lines. It has several interstate and national highways.Time-Life Building (Chicago)
The Time-Life Building is a 404-foot-tall (123 m), 30-story skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois designed by Harry Weese and completed in 1969. Located at 541 North Fairbanks Court in the Near North Side, it was among the first in the U.S. to use double-deck elevators. The odd-numbered floors are accessible from the lower lobby, with even floors serviced from the upper level. Currently managed by the Golub Group. It currently serves as the headquarters for the Chicago Park District.
See also: Beaches in Chicago